Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum
A message from the Co-chairs & Vice Chairs of the UK Inter Faith Network
A message from the Co-Chairs and Vice-Chairs to member bodies of the Inter Faith Network for the UK
[The Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum is a member body of the Inter Faith Network for the UK]
The work of most of your organisations, like that of the Inter Faith Network for the UK, focuses on this country. There are, however, times when events in other countries with which we have links or about which we have concern have an impact on our relationships here.
These may be events, past or present, about which a community or communities have strong feelings: particular attacks or periods of persecution or even genocide; ‘one off’ but deeply disturbing episodes; or ongoing actions – military or civilian – affecting the lives of many, within and across borders. The roll call of such actions in recent times is long and the impact reverberates.
Today our thoughts and our prayers are with all those affected by the present crisis in Gaza and Israel, and in other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere where communities are under sometimes terrifying pressures.
Such situations give rise to strong differences of view about what is just and right and they bring with them anxiety, pain – and anger. At these times, our bonds of friendship and trust – long in the making – are tested. It is hard to keep communication open and to continue to be willing to be in dialogue but it is vital to do so and to continue to support each other’s right to differ in opinion and to be willing to make our case with courtesy and respect for the other.
Likewise, continued care for the safety and security of our different faith communities in the UK must surely be a concern for all of us. We acknowledge fears of those in the Jewish community with the recent sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks, mirroring fears in the Muslim community following the increase in attacks on Muslims after the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich last year.
We note also the helpful statements from a range of faith community leaders and organisations. Vital work is happening at local and national level to keep channels of communication open and relationships strong. Our thoughts and prayers are also with all seeking to encourage and support this.
The Rt Revd Richard Atkinson OBE, Co-Chair Mr Vivian Wineman, Co-Chair Mr Mohinder Singh Chana, Vice-Chair Dr Kishan Manocha, Vice-Chair Maulana M Shahid Raza OBE, Vice-Chair Dr Jagdish Sharma, Vice-Chair
Belfast is richly plural
Belfast is richly plural: Engage positively with religious diversity by Inderjit Bhogal
When I met with Muslim friends in a Mosque recently we talked about what I find compelling in the story of Jesus Christ, and the numerous references to Jesus in the Quran. It was a respectful and enriching conversation. Such conversations deepen my understanding of Jesus Christ, and my life as a follower of Jesus Christ.
PRESS Release 25/05/2014
24th May 2014
The Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum (NIIF) is concerned about the recent negative comments about Islam and Muslims that have been broadcast in the media following a sermon by Pastor James McConnell at the Whitewell Tabernacle in Belfast.
The comments in the media hurt thousands of Muslims living peacefully in Northern Ireland and also promote hatred against two billion Muslims all over the globe.
While we accept that freedom of speech is a basic human right, this needs to be balanced with the basic human right of respect for others’ faith and identity.
The Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum has a vision for Northern Ireland of Faith communities, together, evidencing understanding, mutual respect and trust.
The mission of the Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum is to bring members from world faiths together in a self-governed forum where members work together to facilitate dialogue, promote community cohesion and provide an authentic voice on faith matters, embracing values of faith, diversity, equality, inclusion, partnership, responsibility, excellence and well being.
In keeping with our mission we are happy to facilitate dialogue and to seek to establish understanding in our increasingly diverse society.
NIIF Executive Committee officers:
Chair: Dr Ahmed Helmy
Secretary: Dr Norman Richardson
Vice chair: Mr Edwin Graham
Treasurer: Ms Phil Graham
Hindu Temple Meeting
Members of the Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum joined members of the Indian Comunity for their Hawan Ceremony on 23rd February 2014, followed by an intorductory talk in the Hindu Temple and a vegetarian meal together. It was an informative occasion and an excellent opportunity for Forum members and Hindu friends to meet and share.
Inter-Faith Forum members look on during the Hindu Hawan Ceremony.
Members of the Forum learn about the Hindu Temple.
Exploring Our Faiths Together
A programme of meetings and visits during 2013-14 to renew and extend the awareness and relationships between some of the faith communities present in Northern Ireland.
Starting just after Inter-Faith Week in November 2013 the Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum has been marking its 20th anniversary by setting out on a series of visits to local faith communities and, where possible, to their places of meeting and worship. As in the very early period of the Forum’s existence, members of the Forum will explore the various traditions represented in membership through this combination of talks and visits. It is also as an opportunity to renew our commitment to inter-faith communication and dialogue and to renew relationships between the various faith communities present in Northern Ireland.
Each visit will take its own format, but most will include an introduction to the faith community, input from one or more speakers, opportunity for questions to a panel of members of the community and general questions and discussion.
The next meetings in this series are outlined below, with fuller details to be confirmed when available. This information will be sent out from the Forum in its regular email communications and also notified on the website.
In some cases the visit to the faith community can be combined with a visit to a place or worship or community centre, in other instances a talk and a visit may take place on separate occasions, according to the situation of each particular faith community.
Meetings that have already taken place are:
BELFAST ISLAMIC CENTRE - November 2013
INDIAN COMMUNITY CENTRE AND HINDU TEMPLE - February 2014
25th March: THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY - Venue: All Souls Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church, Elmwood Avenue, Belfast 9
7th May: THE JEWISH COMMUNITY - Venue: Belfast Synagogue, Somerton Road, Belfast 15
June (date to be confirmed): THE BUDDHIST COMMUNITY
Autumn 2014 meetings - dates to be notified
THE SIKH COMMUNITY
THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY INTER-FAITH RELATIONS IN NORTHERN IRELAND